Wang Yi spoke to Ukraine's Foreign Minister Kuleba over the phone
Introduction and Translation by Adam Ni
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a readout on the evening of March 1 Beijing time of a phone conversation that day between State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba.
During the call, Wang Yi urged Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate whenever possible and settle their differences through negotiation. He also stresses the importance that Beijing attaches to the safety of Chinese citizens in Ukraine.
The fact that Wang Yi spoke to Ukraine's Foreign Minister is significant in itself. Moscow would not be pleased with this. Combined with other actions (e.g., slight shifts in language and abstaining from the UNSC vote condemning Russian aggression), we can see that Beijing continues to calibrate its position on Ukraine.
Below is a translation of the readout, which at the time of writing is only available in Chinese. For more of our work on China's response to the Ukraine conflict, click here.
On March 1, 2022, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a telephone conversation with Ukrainian Foreign Minister [Dmytro] Kuleba [on the latter's invitation].
[Foreign Minister] Kuleba introduced the state of affairs on the first round of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. For Ukraine, ending hostilities is the highest priority; Ukraine maintains an open attitude to a negotiated solution to the Ukraine issue and approaches negotiations with Russia constructively and with goodwill. Although the current negotiations have not been successful, Ukraine remains calm and is willing to continue to push forward with the negotiations. China has played a constructive role on the Ukraine issue, and Ukraine is willing to strengthen communication with China and look forward to China mediating to achieve a ceasefire.
Wang Yi stated that the situation in Ukraine had changed drastically. China regrets the outbreak of conflict between Ukraine and Russia and is extremely concerned about the harm suffered by civilians. China's basic position on the Ukraine issue is open, transparent and consistent. We have always advocated respect for all countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity. Concerning the current crisis, China calls on Ukraine and Russia to find a solution through negotiations; [China] supports all constructive international efforts conducive to a political solution.
Wang Yi stressed that China has always believed that one country's security cannot be achieved at the expense of the security of other countries and that regional security cannot be achieved by expanding military blocs. Given the expanding hostilities, the urgent task at hand is to de-escalate the situation on the ground whenever possible and avoid escalation or even the conflict from spinning out of control. There is a need, in particular, to prevent harm to civilians and the emergence of a humanitarian crisis. Moreover, the safety and timely entry of humanitarian aid [efforts] should be guaranteed.
Wang Yi emphasised [China's] position on guaranteeing the safety of Chinese citizens in Ukraine and urged Ukraine to assume its related international responsibilities. Wang Yi stressed that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the safety of Chinese citizens in Ukraine and is concerned about their safety and security at all times. Chinese citizens in Ukraine are all ambassadors of friendship between China and Ukraine; they are all friends of the Ukrainian people.
China is moving forward with the evacuation of its students and expatriates in Ukraine and appreciates the support and cooperation of Ukraine as well as the friendly assistance of all sectors of the Ukrainian society. China appreciates Ukraine for organising a special train for the evacuation of foreign nationals in Ukraine, which is in line with the international humanitarian spirit. We hope that Ukraine will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens in Ukraine and continue to provide protection and amenities for the evacuation of Chinese citizens.
[Foreign Ministry] Kuleba said that ensuring the safety of foreign nationals is an important duty for Ukraine. Ukraine attaches great importance to China's concerns and is assisting Chinese citizens, including students, to evacuate successfully. Ukraine will continue to act responsibly to ensure the safe evacuation of foreign nationals.